Pitching for the private sector to play a bigger role in higher education, President Pranab Mukherjee on Friday said the private sector needed to step up its efforts to convince the people that it offered the best quality of education compared to the highest international standards.
Parents by and large in India were skeptical when it came to private universities, the President observed and advised the private sector to shape up and step up standards as there were unlimited demands and limited resources in the higher education sector.
Parents prefer "old" and "established" public universities, he said, adding "to build the trust of the people, private universities must constantly prove themselves because they do not have the benefit of age.
"They (private universities) must be able to promise a good future to the students and make sure they fulfill all of their promises", he said.
Addressing the convocation function at SRM University here, the President said, "the standards of higher education in India today need improvement. In ancient India, we had universities like Nalanda and Takshashila which had established themselves as international centers of educational excellence where students from all over the world came and studied", Mukerjee said.
In contrast, many students on Friday choose to go abroad for higher studies, Mukherjee said.
Advising the domestic universities to shape up, the President said "we must change the reality of our universities not figuring in the list of top universities of the world. Indian universities should aim at becoming top educational institutions in the world with global standards of research, teaching and learning."
"The private sector has played a key role in higher education in other countries across the world. Many top universities including Harvard, Yale and Stanford are the result of efforts of the private sector. There is no reason why Indian private sector cannot achieve similar results", he said.
Stating that Indian education system was "burdened" with demands of both "quantity" and "quality", he said, "the numbers of students who seek admissions in universities today far exceed the capacity of government educational institutions".
"We need many more universities to be able to address the demands of higher education. And along with quantity, we also need to focus on quality", he said.
Defence Research Development Organisation director general VK Sarasvat and noted physician Pawan Raj Goyal were awarded Doctorates in their field of expertise by Mukherjee on the occasion.